Notre Dame Football: Defensive Grades vs. USC

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Oct 17, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; USC Trojans running back Justin Davis (22) is tackled by Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Sheldon Day (91) and linebacker Jaylon Smith (9) in the third quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line: B-

The front line of the defense played a decent game on Saturday, anchored once again by junior Isaac Rochell and senior captain Sheldon Day. Rochell especially played well, collecting 6 tackles (1.5 for a loss), 1 sack, and 3 QB hurries. Day added 4 tackles and a QB hurry, and senior Romeo Okwara had possibly his best game of the season, with 3 tackles (2 for loss), 1 sack, and 2 QB hurries. Sophomore Daniel Cage played adequately on the inside, making 3 tackles, one of them for a loss.

As a unit, the defensive line got some pressure on Kessler, totaling 8 QB hurries. However, they were only able to sack him twice (at least one of which was brought about by exceptional coverage by the secondary), and much of the game Kessler was able to dance out of the pocket and find receivers, which was partially why he was able to finish with 365 yards passing. Overall, the defensive line appears to be improving, but still needs to find a way to get to the quarterback more consistently and to alter passes once they get there.

Next: Grades: Linebackers